IVP - Andy Unedited - Publishing Is Like . . .

May 12, 2008

Publishing Is Like . . .

The key personnel gathered. “Listen,” said the publisher. “A publisher went out to publish. And as he published, some books fell on deaf ears. And the remaindering houses came and snatched up the excess stock at a fraction of its cost. Other books fell on hard-headed readers where the ideas were not able to root deeply in their minds. So as soon as the readers’ preconceived notions arose, the ideas from the book withered away. Other books fell among a huge glut of other new books and choked out the shelf-space, so the books were not seen. Other books fell into fertile minds and grew there, making a difference in the readers who in turn touched the lives of thirty, sixty or even a hundred other people.”

Later, those who worked with the publisher asked about the story. “Do you not understand?” the publisher replied. “If you don’t understand this aspect of publishing, how will you understand any of it?”

“The publisher publishes books, doing the best possible to find great authors who write great books, giving them the best design and production, providing the most targeted publicity and advertising, working as efficiently as possible with distributors, bookstores and others to get the books out into the hands of the reading public.

“But there is much that the publisher cannot control. Sometimes when a book falls on deaf ears it is because readers just aren’t interested. Sometimes people have their prejudices and, no matter how great the design, you just aren’t going to be able to get past them. Sometimes the competition squeezes out a very good book. And sometimes a book hits its mark, finds the right audience and changes lives, not just entertaining or informing people but making them better people. The reverberations can be felt from that one reader in the lives of dozens or hundreds of others who may have never read the book themselves but who encountered the person who did.

“While a publisher always needs to seek to do the best job possible, those kinds of results are something publishers can’t control. But when it does happen, it is all grace.”

Posted by Andy Le Peau at May 12, 2008 11:28 AM Bookmark and Share


Credit where credit is due. Inspired by Andy Crouch's riff on Jesus' parable in Mark 4 as found in chapter 16 of Culture Making due out in August.



Comment by: Andy at May 12, 2008 11:44 AM

I was going to say this is your best post yet! I guess I can still say "It's Andy's best post?"

Comment by: Dan at May 12, 2008 3:28 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.